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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 6 February

06 February 2023

One of our priorities for the coming year is to continue to focus our efforts on the city centre, making sure it is a place which is vibrant and where people feel safe and want to return.

Our city centre in many ways is thriving with attractive open spaces, good footfall and a lower shop vacancy rate than many other areas. But like every town and city in the country we face anti-social behaviour such as aggressive begging, street drinking and littering.

To tackle these issues, we have committed to increasing our efforts to make sure the city centre is clean and attractive and will work with our partners, including the police.

Last week our rough sleeper outreach officers took part in Operation Luscombe alongside Cambridgeshire Police to crackdown on anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

As you may know, we have a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in place in areas of the city centre, which prohibit begging and street drinking. A public consultation is currently underway to ask for your views in extending the PSPO for a further three years. You can take part and find out more at www.peterborough.gov.uk

The PSPO helps us to work with the police to target known professional beggars who pose as rough sleepers in order to obtain money from passers-by. It also gives us the power to challenge and fine street drinkers who behave in an anti-social way and intimidate shoppers and visitors.

When police and rough sleeper officers were carrying out foot patrols last week, they were set to work straight away as they came into contact with a rough sleeper who appeared to be in severe pain. An ambulance was called and he was left in the capable hands of paramedics.

Over the course of the evening, they gave help and support to individuals who were known to be sleeping rough and continued offering accommodation of housing and support to them. The fact remains in our city that there is a bed for everyone who needs one – there is no reason for anyone to sleep rough.

The team out on patrol also arrested a man for breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order, a court order put in place which prohibits him from asking people for money due to previous incidents of anti-social behaviour, aggression and intimidating behaviour.

He was charged, along with offences of racially aggravated public order offences against a police officer and has now been jailed for 12 weeks.

We know we have some way to go to tackle issues in our city centre, but we are committed to doing all we can to make sure the city centre is a great place to live and visit. I would also point out that all areas of the city are equally important and urge everyone to let us know about important issues where you live.

There’s been media coverage in the past week about the decision by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to approve a mayoral precept which will see every home in the city and county pay £12 (based on a Band D property) towards the cost of providing buses.

I’d like to place on record that I was disappointed with the decision, which was voted through by the Labour and Liberal members of the board. The Conservative members and I did not agree with asking residents to pay this additional precept when we had an alternative budget proposal which would maintain and safeguard bus services across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire - and therefore we voted against it.

I am keen to see improvements in bus services across Peterborough and hope that we can introduce electric buses as soon as possible. As I mentioned last week, with the help of the Combined Authority we have secured £4m from Government to go towards relocating the current bus depot, which will allow this to begin.


And finally, this week we had the first of a series of teaching union strikes taking place which affected many of our schools and residents.

A few people have raised this with me, assuming the council can get involved if schools make the decision to close.

The Department for Education expects headteachers to take all reasonable steps to keep schools open for as many pupils as possible and we have worked closely with schools to support them to do so.

However, the decision to open, restrict attendance, or close a school is for the headteacher or academy trust.

Further strikes affecting schools in the city are due to take place on 1 March and also on 15 and 16 March.

We will continue to keep a record on our website of those schools which are closed, but the best place for you to find out is from your school directly.